sports

There were 30 seconds left to play and the United States team was beating Portugal 2 to 1. The majority pro-American crowd of more than 40,000 at last night’s World Cup game in Brazil were ready to party, but it wasn’t to be.

Portugal scored with less than half a minute to go, and now the U.S. looks ahead to Thursday evening’s game against Germany to determine its World Cup future.

Kevin Wong / Flickr Creative Commons

On Monday, we do The Scramble. And on the Scramble, we always start with a SuperGuest, which means that in defiance of public radio logic, we pick the person first and then figure out what the topics will be. 

This week we started with June Thomas, one of my favorite Slate.com writers and talkers, and someone I assumed would want to riff at least a little bit about pop culture. Instead, her top two choices are Gay Pride month and dentistry.

In A Stunning Finish, Portugal Ties U.S.

Jun 22, 2014

It was heartbreaking. It was stunning. It was the reason they call Group G the "Group of Death."

With 30 seconds left and despite astronomical odds, the United States men's national soccer team was about to qualify for the second round of the World Cup.

But just like that, Portugal's superstar Cristiano Ronaldo crossed to Silvestre Varela, who headed it into the net, tying it, 2-2, marking the final play of the game.

This means everyone in the group of death has a mathematical chance at advancing.

While many millions are enjoying the drama of the World Cup, a handful of scientists are keeping their eyes very closely on the ball.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

The debate over whether to relocate the minor league Rock Cats from New Britain to Hartford continues, and the Hartford's elected officials are now feeling some heat.

The no-hitters just keep coming. That's the case for the Los Angeles Dodgers, as the team's pitchers have thrown two games without giving up a hit in less than a month. Clayton Kershaw used 15 strikeouts to complete the feat Wednesday, matching teammate Josh Beckett's May 25 effort.

Getting the no-hitter was "pretty cool," Kershaw said after throwing 107 pitches in the game.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has revoked the trademark of the NFL's Washington Redskins, after ruling in a case brought by five Native Americans who say the name disparages them. While the decision could have wide repercussions, it does not require the team to change its name. It is also subject to appeal, which the team has confirmed it will pursue.

You know, it is the 21st century, and it is possible to acknowledge that and make both the World Cup and the Olympics more affordable. The current waste and opulence simply aren't defensible anymore.

For the soccer pooh-bahs to demand that Brazil build new stadiums, costing billions of dollars, is unconscionable. How much more logical to utilize existing stadiums in neighboring countries, in large cities like Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Santiago.

Jeremy Goldstein / Creative Commons

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and his people have said that their negotiations to move the minor league New Britain Rock Cats to Hartford had to be confidential, because speaking about them publicly could have risked the whole thing and pushed the team out of state.

Several news reports -- some citing anonymous city officials and sources, others citing speculation and rumors -- suggested that Springfield, Massachusetts was a serious contender.  

Not so, says Springfield. 

The name John Anthony Brooks likely didn't ring a bell for many Americans before Monday.

But by minute 87 of the U.S. vs. Ghana game, John Brooks had become America's newest national hero.

The U.S. Men's National Team beat Ghana in the group stage of the World Cup, payback for losing to the Black Stars in the previous two World Cups.

Team USA captain Clint Dempsey surged past Ghana's John Boye to score 29 seconds after the start of the game, marking one of the fastest goals in World Cup history.

Spurs Beat The Heat To Take Home NBA Title

Jun 16, 2014

In a dramatic Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the San Antonio Spurs triumphed over the Miami Heat to win the NBA title Sunday night, closing out the series with a 104-87 victory.

After a dismal start, the Spurs rallied and turned things around, entering halftime with a 47-40 lead. When the game resumed, they never looked back and were up by more than 20 points multiple times in the second half.

Brazil stumbled early on, but came back to overpower rival Croatia in the group A preliminary round match in Sao Paulo at the opening of the FIFA World Cup 2014.

CBSSports.com says:

"The Brazilians surrendered an early own goal before Neymar answered with a first-half equalizer, and a dive in the box from striker Fred led to the go-ahead goal in the second half on a Neymar penalty kick.

City of Hartford

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has called his plan to move the New Britain Rock Cats to the capital city a "done deal." He's celebrated the plan as both good for Hartford's pride and for its pocketbook.

The city council doesn't necessarily have the final vote, however -- and not everyone likes it. 

Need time off from work to watch the World Cup? If you're in China, no problem. Online stores there are providing fake doctor's notes — even extensive falsified medical records — to get you days of sick leave so you can enjoy your favorite teams.

The service may be particularly appealing, given the time difference with World Cup host Brazil. China is 11 hours ahead of Rio. So if you want to catch opening matches, you have to start watching at midnight, Shanghai time.

Update at 4:31 p.m. ET

And Brazil does recover, with a goal from star Neymar a few minutes later.

Update at 4:28 p.m. ET

The beautiful game is not so beautiful for Brazil in the early moments of the game: Croatia is ahead 1-0 after an own goal by the home team. It's early, though. Plenty of time for Brazil to recover.

[A tweet from NPR's Russell Lewis in Sao Paulo.]

Update at 10:25 a.m. ET

Wednesday welcomes the year's second global sports extravaganza, as the World Cup begins. Just a few months ago, we worried that terrorists would invade the Russian Olympics. Now we wait to see if riots will tarnish the Brazilian World Cup.

The New Britain Rock Cats are owned by Double Play LLC, which consists of Josh Solomon, his brother Jim, and their sister Jennifer Goorno. When that group bought the team, they insisted they were utterly separate from DSF Sports and Entertainment, which is owned by their father, Art Solomon.

Heather Brandon / WNPR

For the better part of a year and half, Hartford city officials negotiated a plan to move the New Britain Rock Cats to the capital city behind closed doors, saying the deal needed that kind of confidentiality, lest it fall apart. 

City of Hartford

Earlier this week, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra called the plan to move the New Britain Rock Cats to the capital city a "done deal." 

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Hartford’s “done deal” on minor league baseball once again has our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse thinking about the process behind government decisions. The plan to bring the New Britain Rock Cats' franchise to town was months in the making behind closed doors. 

We also check in on East Haven where a racial discrimination settlement was reached, closing another chapter in the painful history of the town. A very old bridge is creating new problems for Metro-North commuters down the shoreline too and officials are pointing fingers.

Freakonomics god Stephen Dubner is our SuperGuest for today's Scramble, and he talks about how to think more rationally and creatively, the upside of quitting, and the latest studies on happiness. Then, we chat with sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, and WNPR's capital region reporter Jeff Cohen, on the value of publicly-funded sports arenas. What's the status on the possible building of a baseball stadium in Hartford? Is it a done deal? What else have we learned and expect to understand about what a business like that may do to the city?

On Friday, Los Angeles Angels pitcher Sean Burnett became the latest player this season to undergo "Tommy John" surgery. In this weekend's MLB draft, at least four players selected had already had the infamous elbow surgery as amateurs.

The operation is named after the first player to undergo the procedure to fix an injured elbow ligament, in 1974. Pitchers are particularly vulnerable to this injury.

The procedure involves taking a tendon from somewhere else in the body — or from a cadaver — and grafting it into place. Pitchers get it most often.

The global reach of soccer never ceases to amaze me. I travel all over the world, sometimes to incredibly remote areas. More often than not, when I get there, somebody is kicking around a soccer ball.

It doesn't matter if it's Asia or Africa or Central America. Kids make a goal out of a couple of backpacks, throw out a ball and the game is on. The "ball" could be a knotted towel or a tennis ball or a tattered leather shell that's barely holding air.

Cliff / Creative Commons

City leaders say building a minor league baseball stadium in Hartford would spur economic development. Some of the numbers are based on ambitious assumptions. 

The first game of the NBA finals was a scorcher. Yes, it was played indoors – but the air conditioning in San Antonio's arena broke down, leaving the host Spurs and the Miami Heat sweating in 90-degree temperatures. The Spurs overcame the heat, and the Heat, 110-95.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Today on The Nose, we begin with an essay, "Faking Cultural Literacy." Writer Karl Taro Greenfeld said, "It's never been so easy to pretend to know so much, without actually knowing anything." We pick topical, relevant bits from Facebook, Twitter, or emailed news alerts, and then regurgitate them.

Doug Kerr / Creative Commons

A bunch of numbers jump out when it comes to the proposed new minor league ballpark in Hartford. One of them is the jobs projection. 

City of Hartford

There are a lot of numbers that jump out when it comes to the proposed new minor league ballpark in Hartford – the 600 permanent, full-time jobs, the more than 9,000 seats, the 25-year deal, the $500,000 annual rent payment to the city. But there’s also the price tag itself. 

His big-league career began in the 1950s and included the most recent Yankees dynasty. Along the way, the word "beloved" was often attached to his name. Baseball — the players, the fans, seemingly the sport itself — is mourning Don Zimmer today, after he died at age 83 Wednesday.

The tributes to the feisty guy with a good sense of humor and a bottomless love for the game are pouring out from all over, proof that he didn't waste any time during his 66 years in baseball. In recent years, Zimmer had been suffering from kidney and heart problems.

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